Archive for the ‘project’ Tag

1973 Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

Picture 8It is no secret that I love, I LOVE!!! Honda 350′s…and I’m not the only one. The CB is by most accounts the biggest selling motorcycle of all time…hell, I have four of them! CB,CL and SL models. A couple run, one’s a parts bike and the other is in boxes, milk crates and hanging from the rafters in my barn.

My love affair with the Honda twin began in 1971 when I was in a ‘one-upmanship’ contest with my friend Eddie. Even though I was riding a BSA 650 most of the time, the contest revolved around smaller bikes. Eddie won a couple of times but when I got my first SL350, his ‘little’ Yamaha DT1 250 was left in the dust…literally.

I eventually sold the SL350, after I had slogged it through the deserts of Southern California for a couple of years only to regret it a few years later. So…the search was on for another. I ended up with a 1972 CB350 that had been sitting out in a back yard for something like 10 years or so. That little 350 looked pretty bad, but it was all there and the price was right, a hundred bucks. On to my trailer it went (flat tires and all the spiders you could want, plus a dead mouse in the right side airfilter) and home it came with me. I still have it…25 years later.

Once home, some basic service, a lot of elbow grease and a few (?) new parts and I was back on my favorite little Honda twin. Over the years I put a mild cafe treatment on the bike, lower bars, changed the exhaust, moved the pegs back a bit, upgraded the suspension, I even put good tires on it. Now it is waiting for the big bore kit I recently acquired to be installed.

Building Cafe Racer out of a Honda 350 nowadays is a pretty easy thing to do. Parts are available easily; tanks, seats, controls,suspension, you name it and with a good credit card you can have it delivered to your door the next day. But here is the thing about building a vintage cafe racer,if you’re going to do it right, it ain’t gonna be cheap and it ain’t going to happen over a weekend. The time,effort and money you put into it is for your own pleasure…when time comes to sell it, don’t set your hopes too high.Picture 10

So, on that note, I found a super sweet CL350 that has a whole lot of nice parts and a lot of love put into it and is being sold at a reasonable price (so far). This CL motor has been gone through, it didn’t need much it only has 4837 miles on it, carbs rebuilt, new electrics, etc, etc. Then we get into the really cool stuff.

The bike was stripped down and everything was either powder coated, painted or polished. The wheels got new spokes, bearings and tires. Suspension was all redone front and rear, nice handlebars, rearsets and the exhaust, which may be a bit loud but it sure looks good. I really dig the instruments and the headlight arrangement. I think I’m changing the vision I have for my own new 350 project.

This is a really nicely done Honda 350 that will last for a long time both mechanically and styling. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

Oh and one last thing, the Honda advert says top speed is 100mph…don’t believe them…maybe 95mph is where it tops out. But with a very little work, the little 350 will ‘Do the Ton’. Have fun.

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Picture 41973 Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

1985 Yamaha Virago Custom

Picture 13Now this is a custom that I can really love. Not for its looks but for its soul and the guy that built it. Take a slow, overweight, ill handling motorcycle and make it something cool.

The Yamaha Virago line of bikes have never been all that great in any category, but they have always sold relatively well for the tuning fork company. I have, and still do, lust after an early ’80′s XV920RH model. It is the Euro styled Virago based ride that just works for me. The Yamaha V-Twins are good solid motors, no issues (for the most part) and have a good feel to them. Yamaha was the first of the Japanese companies to go after the factory cruiser market and were pretty successful at it. The tuning fork company made a lot of different versions of the Virago all the way down to a little 250cc model. To this day the Star brand still has a lot of the old Virago in it’s DNA.

So, back to this Virago I found on ebay today. This is a very unique custom…it truly is a hack build, and I mean that in a good way.

The owner worked on the frame, took it back to a twin shock design, popped in a Honda CBR900RR front fork and added some Kawasaki EX500 rear sets. All to make the bike handle better. Then comes the custom work. A handmade steel tank, and here’s the part I really dig… The guy made some headers himself and then went to the best supplier of cheap parts…JC Whitney for the mufflers. Man, I love this build. Take a pound mutt, don’t make it into a throughbred, just make it mean. Oh and I really love the tail light!!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

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1985 Yamaha Virago Custom

1972 Honda CB350 Custom

Picture 7Here we have a very nicely sorted but not over done Honda. Styling wise it is a very clean Cafe Racer, mechanically I’m guessing it’s still pretty much stock save the pod filters and the tidy exhaust. This is the pattern I am going to use for my own 350 project.

The owner obviously went through the process of dismantling the bike, cleaning, painting and polishing, then went into cafe mode. First stop, Benji’s Cafe Racers for the body work. I believe the ‘El Poquito’ body is absolutely the best looking for the CB. Clean additions like the Air-tech front fender, the polished clip-ons and some nice rearsets take care of the styling and functionality. I also like the silver paint, simple and elegant.

A good cafe racer has to handle well and this bike seems to be on its way to that goal. The shocks are far better than the stockers but what did he do with the front? Upgraded springs? even an oil change? There are some simple frame mods that make a huge difference on CB’s. Looks like the bike has stock wheels with a couple decent tires spooned on.

All in all, this is probably the nicest CB350 I have seen. Good looking, better handling, reliable and so much fun to ride!! This guy (or gal?) has put a lot of time, love and money into this Honda and it shows. And with the low miles it has on the clock (provided it is the real mileage), it will be fun to ride for years and will draw a crowd wherever you go. For more info and more pictures, click on the pics below.

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Picture 41972 Honda CB350 Custom

1974 Norton Cafe Racer

For some reason I seem to be on a Norton kick at this time. I want one. That big long stroke motor, watching the front wheel shake at stop lights…wait a minute, we’re heading into a way different topic of discussion here…uh, back to motorcycles.

I think the main reason I’m on this Norton kick is because my friends at ‘Left Coast Racing’ and I are getting ready for another Bonneville LSR run in couple of months with a pair of Norton’s. We currently hold a Land Speed Record with a rather built up 1959 Norton.

The very first Norton I ever took for a ride was a ‘rode hard and put away wet’ 750 Commando back in the early 70′s that my step dad rescued from some guys back yard. It was a lot different from the BSA’s and Triumph’s I had been riding, and honestly…at that time, I liked my Lightning 650 a lot better. But, being the good motorcycle souls that we were, we went about resurrecting it…a project that took over a year and a lot more money than my mom knows about.

During that same time, we were also upgrading a Triumph Bonneville from a standard 650cc to a Weslake 750 model (again, another story for anther time…and a really good one??). The Commando rebuild was a lot easier thanks to people like Brian Slark, Domiracer and Berliner. At the end of the year both motorcycles were finished, broken in appropriately and then taken out for a proper thrashing…Sunday morning on Angeles Crest Highway.

I fell in love with the Norton. Up to that time my motorcycling life had been with high revving two strokes, and somewhat high revving (by then current standards) English and Japanese twins, the Norton was a different feeling altogether. Where my BSA would feel light at the bars, the Norton was dead steady, the BSA needed some revs to get off a corner quickly, the Norton just needed a nudge on the throttle…the BSA needed you to pay attention, the Norton just went along with however you were riding that day (even with a minor (major) hangover).

The Norton was sold to a friend of a friend of a friend or their third cousin by marriage twice removed (no Alabama jokes here…) and was never seen again. I had grown to love that motorcycle and was sad to see it leave the garage…the guy didn’t even ride it home, he put it in a pick up truck!??? After all the work we did?… and he didn’t even live 20 miles away!! This was way before the days of ebay and buying a motorcycle on the other side of the world was easy.

So today, while working on our other websites, http://www.ilovecaferacers.com and http://www.themotoworld.com and cruising ebay looking for yet another project bike for a friend, I came upon a very nice Norton that is ready to ride and has some very nice bits and pieces.

This is a 1974 850 Commando that is a runner but…it has been sitting for years according to the owner so if you buy this bike you really need to go through the carbs, change the fluids, probably the tyres…all the standard stuff but I think this bike will be well worth the effort.

The bike has been outfitted with the Dunstall bits that really make it great, starting with the Dunstall 2 into 1 into 2 exhaust system. This exhaust is worth the price of admission alone, it is a work of art in every respect…performance and looks. The beautiful tank and that very slim front fender (I put one of those on the front of my H2, it was pretty worthless as far as fenders go, but I loved how it looked), the 850 also has what looks to me like Lester mag wheels. This Norton only has only 8800 miles on the clock and like I said before, with just some standard service, should be a wonderful ride.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info. This is a great bike for the money.



74 Dunstall Norton

1973 Suzuki T500 (with Reed Titan bodywork?)

This is an interesting, and low priced, Suzuki T500 in need of a bit of work to get it ready for either the street or a track day. The seller claims it is fast and “runs/rides well”. The neatest thing about the bike is the bodywork. While the seller thinks it is original Reed Titan bodywork, I would tend to believe that at this price and condition that it is replica fiberglass. It needs some work and parts to be fully rideable (missing front master cylinder being the most obvious thing), but it is 95% complete. Check out the listing to get more details.

The auction still has almost 10 days left at this point, and the starting bid is $999. Interestingly, it has a Buy-It-Now of only $1,999. This seems like it might make this bike a really good deal, but it also speaks to the fairly beat-on bodywork and the need for some work before riding. It will be interesting to see what happens with this auction as it moves towards completion…

Suzuki Titan 500 1973 Cafe Racer 0011
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Suzuki Titan 500 1973 Cafe Racer 0014
Suzuki Titan 500 1973 Cafe Racer 0015
Suzuki Titan 500 1973 Cafe Racer 0016

1979 Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special 2-Fer

This is a kind of interesting auction. While neither bike is a specifically a built cafe racer, a guy in Ohio is auctioning off this pair of RD400 Daytona Specials. The one that’s a runner appears to be in good shape with a number of new parts, while the fixer/parts-bike has a bunch of included parts that need to be installed (or it needs to be parted out). It seems to me that a good end for this auction would be if the winner rode the bike that’s running, and converted the rough fixer into a cafe. And then they sent some pics to the blog. :)

There are 4 days left in the auction, but nobody has started bidding yet. The opening bid will need to be $3K, but it is a no-reserve auction…

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Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special 0016

1978 Suzuki GS750 Cafe Racer


Suzuki GS750 1978 Cafe Racer 0011

I’ve been trying to be nice lately. Really. Haven’t you been able to tell? But I can hold back no longer…

There are three things wrong with this bike. I’ll take the flack if you disagree. First, the seller is unclear on whether or not the bike is a 1978 or a 1979. Maybe that doesn’t matter from a technical standpoint, but it does from a “seller knowing his sh!t” standpoint. Secondly, there is no paperwork to go along with the bike. That can make it difficult to register (especially here on the left coast). Thirdly, the seat. Do I need to spell it out? The TL1000R seat is just wrong. It was iffy on the actual TL1000R, and here it is just not right. The stock seat would be better. A pillow seat would be… well, not better, but not worse.

I get the fact that all of us trying to build cafe-styled bikes makes choices as we design the final look, but this feels more like someone who had an extra TL1000R seat sitting in the garage. That reminds me, I’ve got a TZ250 GP seat in my garage that I just might mount on the ’05 Sportster. I’ll post a pic if I do it. :)

5 days left in the auction, with 4 bidders, and the price at $510. Good luck if you are interested!!!

Suzuki GS750 1978 Cafe Racer 0011
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Suzuki GS750 1978 Cafe Racer 0016

1970 BSA Project Bike

I’m not even going to attempt to claim any knowledge about the combination of motor and frame in this eBay listing for a BSA project bike. It is supposedly a 1970 frame (B441 of some type) along with a motor from 1967. The VINs are in the last two photos, so check it out if you are interested in bidding. There are 4 hours left in the auction, and the price is just under $1K with 1 bid.

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What it might have looked like originally...
What it might have looked like originally (with some itty-bitty text)...
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1963 BSA B40 Project Bike


BSA B40 1963 011

Here’s a nice little project bike that is already generating some interest in bids. It’s a 1963 BSA B40 that has been outfitted with a B44 motor. It is in need of finishing (hence Project Bike in the title of the post), but appears to be a relatively easy bike to complete. The seller claims the engine is running with all wiring in place, but I would ask questions before buying this bike.

Luckily, you have lots of time to ask questions as there are still over 6 days left in the auction. The price has already gone above $400 from a starting price $1, although reserve has not been met. And there are three people bidding so far. Perhaps this little beezer will generate a fair bit of interest…

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1973 Honda CB750 (Stock Bike For Project)

If you are looking for a decent starting point for a cafe racer project, this might be a good bike to begin your work. It’s a 1973 Honda CB750 that is basically stock and in good shape. The seller provided a good list of his recent upgrades to the mechanicals, so I just cut and pasted the list shown below. There are a few more pictures on eBay of some of the details on the bike, but these give you an overall idea of what this bike has in store for you…

I don’t know if this bike is going to sell or not. It has zero bidders with just over a day left in the auction, but the starting price is at $2,500. Buy-It-Now is set at $3,200. If everything works as stated by the seller, this bike appears to be in line with what a decent CB750 is currently worth. I’d love to see pics of this bike after it gets the cafe treatment…


    Had a Honda mechanic replace all the gaskets in the upper half of the engine. Head gasket, valve cover gasket, etc…
    Carbs have been cleaned, rebuilt and synched
    Valves have been timed
    Gas tank has been lined
    New OEM petcock fuel valve
    Clutch has been rebuilt with OEM Honda parts, OEM clutch cable is new also
    Brakes have been serviced and checked out
    Original air box replaced with pod filter, carbs were re-jetted at this time with 120′s, i also have the original air box with a new K&N filter
    Rear fender has been removed and replaced with a fender eliminator kit and LED rear light. Looks great on the bike. Turn signals were flush mounted and look better this way
    New EMGO rear shocks have been added to replace the originals that were pretty useless. I still have them though
    Low (super) bars have been added to give it more of the cafe racer look. Note- these are not “clubman” bars because i found them to be uncomfortable
    Added a headlight visor to front light
    Original chain has been replaced with an o-ring chain
    New battery added last summer
    Original paint on the gas tank (pretty sure side covers are repro)
    I have the original tool kit and original manual from Honda
    I also have 3 additional manuals, including the official Honda service manual which is amazing
    Tires have plenty of tread on them
    Electric ignition and kick start both work great
    All lights, guages and electronics function perfectly


Honda CB750 1973 Cafe Racer Project 01
Honda CB750 1973 Cafe Racer Project 02
Honda CB750 1973 Cafe Racer Project 03
Honda CB750 1973 Cafe Racer Project 04

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